IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Microsoft Security Essentials review

Microsoft is having a second stab at the anti-virus suite, only this time its package is free. Has it got it right second time around?

Microsoft Security Essentials

Security Essentials is Microsoft's second go at producing a standalone security package for Windows.

It replaces the now-discontinued Windows Live OneCare, but takes a fundamentally different tack. Where OneCare was a commercial package, positioned as a comprehensive security solution, Security Essentials is free and as the name implies keeps things as simple as possible.

In practice, that means a minimal feature set. Security Essentials doesn't use fancy cloud analysis or sandboxing techniques like most commercial antivirus packages. It adds nothing to the standard Windows firewall, and makes no attempt to warn the user away from phishing websites or hijacked pages.

mse1

But it will check the files on your hard disk and intercept known malware before it can wreak havoc. That should be enough to keep you safe from the vast majority of online nasties, be they worms, viruses, Trojans or whatever.

And in our tests, Security Essentials did indeed detect almost all of the malware we pitted it against, picking up 96 per cent of our selection of live files. That's a very creditable score, though Avira's free AntiVir package scored 100 per cent.

The no-frills approach brings some collateral benefits too. In terms of ease of use, Security Essentials is hard to beat. Its interface comprises just four tabs, labelled "Home", "Update", "History" and "Settings". It's laughably easy to get an at-a-glance view of your protection status and launch manual database updates (regular updates come down with Windows Update, making it effortless to manage Security Essentials in a business context). You can also check detected items, and access simple options such specifying folders and file types to ignore.

Featured Resources

Four strategies for building a hybrid workplace that works

All indications are that the future of work is hybrid, if it's not here already

Free webinar

The digital marketer’s guide to contextual insights and trends

How to use contextual intelligence to uncover new insights and inform strategies

Free Download

Ransomware and Microsoft 365 for business

What you need to know about reducing ransomware risk

Free Download

Building a modern strategy for analytics and machine learning success

Turning into business value

Free Download

Recommended

Canon Image Formula R10 review: Makes scanning a dream
peripherals

Canon Image Formula R10 review: Makes scanning a dream

19 Jan 2022
Kodak S2085f review: A ferociously fast network scanner
peripherals

Kodak S2085f review: A ferociously fast network scanner

20 Sep 2021
Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1600 review: Unparalleled cloud support
peripherals

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1600 review: Unparalleled cloud support

16 Sep 2021
Canon imageFORMULA DR-M260 review: The ideal workhorse
peripherals

Canon imageFORMULA DR-M260 review: The ideal workhorse

14 Sep 2021

Most Popular

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack
hacking

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack

16 May 2022
Researchers demonstrate how to install malware on iPhone after it's switched off
Security

Researchers demonstrate how to install malware on iPhone after it's switched off

18 May 2022
Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies
Server & storage

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies

12 May 2022